Penguins Dying from Heat
The rising temperature around the world has a strong effect on wildlife and nowhere is this more apparent than in the South Pole. Around 18.000 of Adélie penguin chicks have died, which is nearly half of a single colony on East Antarctica. Are penguins facing extinction?
Penguins of this species lay a single egg and the parents take turns guarding it. When the chick hatches, the parents are still taking turns in guarding and hunting for their offspring. With the climate changes, their normal habitats may soon become unfit to hold their colonies.
Some people think that climate change is the same as global warming, but the truth is that climate is much more complicated than that. Some areas are getting warner, while others are cooling down. This results in a fluctuation in sea levels, making the hunting trips less lucrative than they would normally be. This year, scientists monitoring the colonies have discovered about 18.000 dead chicks. They died of starvation.
Despite this, the Adélie penguin is not endangered. The species has encountered massive deaths in Antarctica in the past and there are millions upon millions of these flightless birds. Another fact to factor in is that it is common for a large percentage of the chicks not to survive to adulthood, as the area itself can be pretty cruel in its own right. The lifespan of these penguins can reach 20 years, which means that something like this doesn’t have to be the end of the species in the making.
The hunger and the warmer seas are affecting other species of penguins as well, including the King Penguins. Like their Adélie cousins, King Penguins have to swim farther and farther to get to the food. The largest colonies are pretty far away from a stable food source, so they are going to have to move of face extinction. Luckily, these penguins are not restricted to Antarctica, there are many colonies in Tierra del Fuego and the Falkland Islands. At the time of writing, there are over 2 million King Penguins in existence and, reportedly, their numbers are rising.
Emperor Penguins are expected to drop in number significantly by the end of the century. Several teams of researchers are trying to get the species listed as endangered, so that proper action may be taken to prevent their disappearance. Like the previous entries on the list, it is their diet of krill that is the biggest factor in their survival. Krill depend on ice for shelter and, without it, the penguins are going to be forced to travel further and further to hunt them.
Cause for Concern
The biggest issue the penguins are facing is not the change of temperature in itself, but what it represents. Warmer seas mean that there is going to be less food for the animals, as the ice is instrumental in krill’s diet and habitat. Without it, penguins are going to have to commute farther and farther, often leaving themselves and their offspring without a reliable source of food. We can only hope that the colonies are going to start migrating or they are going to face serious problems within a century or two.